Hacktivist group Anonymous have taken down many Saudi Arabian government websites in protest over the state’s decision to behead and crucify 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr.
Al-Nimr was arrested when he was 17 over his involvement in alleged anti-government activities.
Campaigners have accused the government of targeting al-Nimr only for being the nephew of a prominent campaigner, Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death for terrorism offences and “waging war on God”. Al-Nimr’s final appeal to courts was dismissed earlier in September and his sentence of death by crucifixion can now be carried out at any time.
Anonymous issued a video statement to Saudi Arabia on 22 September saying they would “not stand by and watch” as “innocent” Al-Nimr is sentenced to death. The group called on Saudi Arabia to release Al-Nimr, citing reports that he had been denied a lawyer and subjected to torture. According to Reprieve, an anti-death penalty charity, Al-Nimr was also forced to sign a confession in 2012, which was then used to sentence him to death 2014.
“Thousands of people die each year because of the Saudi Arabian government and they will now be punished for their actions,” warned Anonymous in the video statement. “We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us.”
On Saturday (26 September) night, Anonymous announced that all Saudi Arabian government websites would be going offline.
The announcement was accompanied by another video, addressing the fact that the Saudi government had ignored Anonymous’ last video and letter directed at them. They said that the Ministry of Justice website had been taken offline a few days ago and that they would continue to do the same to other government websites.
“Since you have ignored our wishes we will now take action for your ignorance,” said the video message. “It was not a good idea to anger us, Saudi Arabian government. We hope you listen to us this time and release the young man. You will be treated as a virus and we are the cure.”